Yes, I paint flowers, but not a lot ::)))

I don’t choose to paint flowers often, though I am a serious gardener from May through October, and I love flowers and gardens. Occasionally my watercolor mentor and friend Sally Treanor gives our Monday morning group a flowers assignment. I am generally reminded when she does that I like to paint anything and everything.daffodils

These are daffodils from last year at this time.

The freer I am with my brush and paint, the better. The painting on the left is more successful, in my opinion, than the one on the right. Painting freely is a struggle for me. Why? Because I can paint realistically so easily, so much easier than painting an impression.

Compare the “pansies” on the left, “begonia” on the upper right and “red cabbage” to these more realistic paintings. Nice, but not what I want to do!

My hero Charles Rennie Mackintosh, 1868-1928, the Scottish architect and designer turned watercolor painter, paints graphic interpretations of flowers.  Look at these!

Mackintosh’s architectural designs, primarily viewable in Glasgow, not the least of which was the Glasgow College of Art which was nearly lost to a devastating fire in 2014, inspired me to become an architect.  His paintings inspire me in my painting.

My favorite floral painter today is the Brit Shirley Trevena.  Her work is both nuanced and free and full of color and line and I love it!

I will keep painting floral subjects, though I prefer landscapes and cityscapes. Here a few more of my paintings and sketches from the recent past. Hope you like them.

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westside grapesFlowers at Taormina, Sicilia10945656_10152973364469774_160330681644190070_n

This Spring and Summer I will have two of my paintings on posters for great events here in Western New York.  The first will be the 3rd Annual Buffalo’s Cherry Blossom Festival.

cherry blossom

The second event, the largest free Garden Walk in the USA, will feature my hosta on its poster for Garden Walk Buffalo 2016. Happy Spring and Summer!

1.Hosta1.2015.web

Captured Travels

These past months of January and February 2016 have been so intense! My solo show, Captured Travels opened with a beautiful, well-attended reception at Betty’s Restaurant, 370 Virginia Street in Buffalo, on Monday night, January 25, 2016, and will be on view through March 20th. I collected brand new and some older paintings, both studio and plein air, and sketches, and put them all together. Kathleen Sherin did a marvelous job curating and hanging the show, and I sold 10 of the 23 pieces on opening night!

Palermo's Finest.web

This is a very recent painting that graced the publicity for the show, Palermo’s Finest. I could have sold it several times!

Isle du Saint Louis.Paris.web

This is a plein air painting, watercolor and ink, from our trip this past fall to Paris. The painting of the Pont de la Tournelle below is from a photo Tom took of me painting the Isle du Saint Louis above!

Painter.Pont de la Tournelle.Paris.web

Two more ink and watercolor paintings are of the Paris Backyards and Cimitiere du Pere-LaChaise, Paris.

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My architectural background and love for detail comes out in this ink sketch of a Detail from the Palais Garnier in Paris.

These two plein air ink and watercolor paintings from Varenna on Lake Como “capture”

 

I have painted many views of the towns and landscape around Lake Como.

Perledo above Varenna, with the “hand of God light”, and the Villa Monastero, one of two beautiful villas open to the public along Lake Como in Varenna.

Carol sketching.Varenna.web

Here I am painting in Varenna.

The first year that I started to sketch when we travelled was 2010 when we spent some time in Cinque Terre, Italy. These two ink sketches are from there.

We also visited Bologna where we were fascinated by the medieval timber frame architecture.

MedievalTimberframe.Bologna.web

In Tuscany it was all about the views.

Tuscan View.Italy.web

Then there’s our time in Istria in Croatia,

Istrian Town.web

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the province of Languedoc in FranceIstrian View.Croatia.web

 

and Scotland, Portree near the Isle of Skye and the Duart Castle.

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Duart Castle.Scotland.web

We will continue to travel as long as we can and I will continue to capture our travels in sketchbooks, plein air paintings, and studio paintings. Such a rewarding time.

Key West 2016

Tom and I were fortunate to be able to escape Buffalo’s winter for two weeks in February. We love Key West, the architecture, the plants, the birds, the people, the arts community, the beaches – very different from the rest of Florida, and enjoyable for both of us, no small task!

I sketch in Key West, and I painted twice with the Key West Plein Air Painters. I also took a class from Sean Callahan at the Studios of Key West. It was a good two weeks for me. I love to draw in my 5″ x 8″ Moleskine sketchbook, using ink pens, and watercolors. I often sketched on site and then add watercolor at the kitchen table. That’s how these sketches were done.

Sometimes I don’t add any color. The architecture or plant form is enough.

Sometimes I work with both ink and watercolor on site. These are small “sketch paintings.”

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The beach scene from Englewood, Florida, spans an open Moleskine. I tried using different colored pens when we were waiting for dinner and enjoying the surroundings at Blue Heaven.  Not sure that this one is successful, but it is fun.

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This ink sketch and the watercolor were both done at the kitchen table after a disappointing failure on site. We were having a lovely brunch at La Creperie. My perspective was too off to complete, so I worked from a photograph on Tom’s iPad. Much better.

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Every time we visit Key West, I sketch or paint the sea grape.  I love the way light shines through brightening its colors.  This is pen and watercolor pencil minus the water.

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I enjoyed painting with the Key West Plein Air Painters. It was a challenge.  The light and architectural and plant forms are so different from Buffalo.  It will take me some years to become comfortable. These are the two paintings I did, no ink in either.

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For fun I sat in on two sessions of a watercolor class at the Studios at Key West.  The teacher artist, Sean Callahan and I do not have similar approaches to watercolor, but it’s always interesting to keep an open mind. Everyone worked off the same photograph provided by Sean. Here’s my painting from the first week, done on the kitchen table. I couldn’t complete the second one, instead I sketched Sean and then added the subject, yellow eggs!!! over the top of my sketch. Pretty silly, it expresses my frustration.

I reinforced what I already know, I love to sketch and paint my surroundings, not from others photographs.

Thank you to Joanne Sloan for introducing me to the Key West Plein Air Painters!

 

 

What have I been doing since we got back from Paris?

I last posted in October when we returned from a month in Paris. My heart is still there, bleeding for the Parisiens we met, we watched and enjoyed. But life has gone on here in Western New York. I entered two juried shows, the first being Buffalo Society of Artists 119th Catalogue Show, juried by Antonio F. Petracca. My two paintings were accepted, and I won the Gold Medal for my watercolor on gessoed watercolor paper, entitled Hertel Avenue Sunset. I found out by text from my wonderful friend and watercolor mentor, Sally Treanor.  2:30 am Paris Time – “You Won!”

CSiracuse_Hertel Ave Sunset01.web

The other entry, Sunset on the Black Rock Canal, is much more traditional transparent watercolor. I am drawn to high contrast, strong values and light. These two paintings work with all three.

CSiracuse_SunsetBlackRockCanal01.web

 

The other juried show I entered was the Fall 2015 Niagara Frontier Water Media Show juried by Barbara Nechis. NFWS is close to my heart. I’m in my second and last year as it’s president.  It is the only Watercolor Society west of the Central New York Watercolor Society in New York State. My two paintings were accepted. Both florals, both with ink and watercolor, therefore considered to be “water media”. One, entitled “Spring Amarylis” is painted on rice paper.  I love rice paper! The other, “Hosta No. 1”, is on watercolor paper, and has been selected as the poster image for this year’s Garden Walk, Buffalo, an honor for me as I am an energetic gardener, and our city garden has been on the Garden Walk, missing one year for construction, since 2002.

CSiracuse_SpringAmaryllis01.web     CSiracuse_Hosta101.web

There are many wonderful galleries in Western New York, and they all put on holiday shows, encouraging art lovers to support our artists community. I’m in two shows, one at TGW Gallery at 497 Franklin Street in the Allentown District of Buffalo.  The openings for this show, and the other I’m in at Artsphere at 447 Amherst Street, as well as a lovely handful of other downtown galleries, are scheduled for the First Friday of the month, in this case December. It was a great evening of conversation, food and art. These shows will all be on til the end of the month.

At TGW, I have four paintings, “City of Night Light”, “Canalside 2”, “Bullseye” and “Darwin Martin House.”  Darwin Martin sold on opening night. The artwork at TGW for this show is a wonderful representation of the talent in WNY. All work is “economically accessible”, my phrase. Everyone should be able to own original artwork!

CarolSiracuse.City of Night Light.web. CarolSiracuse.Canalside.web CarolSiracuse_Bullseye.web CarolSiracuse_DRMartin.web

At Artsphere I have three paintings, “Roadtrip Sunrise,” “This Year’s Pears,” and “Red Twig”. This is a special show of paintings from Sally Treanor’s students. We meet with Sally every Monday morning, September – June. I’ve been painting in Sally’s studio since 2002.  She’s been a wonderful encouraging teacher.

Carol_Siracuse.Roadtrip Morning.web Carol_Siracuse.This Year's Pears.web Carol_SiracuseRed Twig.web

Since the push to create for these shows is over, and Christmas is fast approaching, I am finishing some paintings I started this summer, and trying some new ideas, but I’m going to have to switch gears and attack some of the commissions I have patiently waiting. Time is short! Here are some of the paintings I’ve been working on. I am challenged to paint trees by our proximity to Delaware Park, an Olmsted beauty, and by my fascination with the work of Charles Burchfield. I used to be a docent at the Burchfield Penney Art Center, and during that time I became enamored with Burchfield’s early work in watercolor.  These two paintings are greatly influenced by his work, especially the first. I dare to title it “Yet Another Homage to Burchfield”, though that title may change. The second is “Night and Day.”

Delaware Park Fall 2015.web Night and Day 12.09.web

The painting I just finished, called “Sonia!”, is a solution to the pear and apple painting exercises we were doing in Sally Treanor’s class. Since rediscovering Sonia Delaunay in the Pompidou in Paris, I have been dreaming Delaunay, hence the title, an obvious homage.

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So, on to the commissions and holiday preparations. My goal is to post more often.

Til then, enjoy your holidays, one and all!

Painting in Gardens

For the past two years, in July, as part of the National Garden Festival here in my home city of Buffalo I have taken part in the Artists in Gardens, a very enjoyable opportunity for local artists to sit in beautiful gardens and paint. These gardens are open to the public the same time each week, Thursdays and Fridays. I painted in four gardens this year and twice in the same garden last year.  I also enjoy sketching and painting in my own garden.

http://nationalgardenfestival.com/garden/opengardens.asp

Here I am hard at work on a pen and ink sketch of Ellie Dorritie’s front yard. I haven’t finished the watercolor additions yet, but here’s the sketch too.  A great cottage on Little Summer Street in Buffalo.
IMG_3411Dorritie drawing

I also painted at Arlan and Dominic’s Garden on Norwood Avenue. Arlan and Dom have been involved in the Garden Walk Buffalo since its inception. They have a wonderful victorian home and a yard full of surprises. As a former architect I was drawn to their back porch and back elevation.

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 I drew this in pen and ink and added the watercolor while I enjoyed ice tea and even birthday cake made by Dominic. What lovely people!

There were two other homes whose gardens I painted, one the Timlins’ on Park Street. The point of view was challenging, but I think I did an ok job.This is a beautiful brick home with a very  sensitive entry and garage addition. Nicely done!

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The last garden I painted in I also painted in for the 2014 Artists in Gardens. 8 Paths Garden is unlike any other I have seen. Such a eye and attention to detail. The gardener has an unusual selection of plants, some that I’ve never seen before.

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I also like to paint and sketch in my own garden. Here are a few from the last three years of Garden Walks, together with some photos of our garden.

 5.Tom's Garden Fence.2013.web 4.Last Night - Open Garden.web our garden.web3.SummerBackyard .ElmwoodVillage 2013.web

pansies our house front hellstrip  begonias backyard2 backyard photo

I also like to pick flowers and make bouquets just as my father the gardener used to pick so that my mom the artistic flower arranger could work her magic. Every bouquet reminds me of them.

bouquet 2 bouquet 1 front hellstrip

Experimenting with Gessoed Watercolor Paper

I have learned something, sometimes many things, from every water media workshop I’ve ever participated in.  Just finished one with Susan Webb Tregay which leaves me with Sue perched on my shoulder whispering one of her multitude of quotable quotes all great advice about color and composition strategies.  Maybe my favorite is the most piercing -“things not worth painting are not worth painting well”.

All that being said, one of the approaches to watercolor and its paper that has most stuck with me, and continues to challenge me, is what Mark Mehaffey had us try during the Niagara Frontier Watercolor Society’s Spring 2013 Workshop.  Paint with watercolor on gesso coated arches 140 lb paper.  Two coats of gesso each side, dry in between. Paint in any set of colors you choose all over the paper, best if pretty intense but not required.

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My first attempt, after the workshop was over and I had had a chance to mull over all that I had learned, turned into a “harmony of intensity” color strategy without any conscious direction from me.  I call it “Loving Burchfield” because it reminded me of one or two of Charles Burchfield’s periods. Being a Buffalo resident, and a former docent at the Burchfield Penney Art Center, I have spent a lot of time studying Burchfield. He was a lover of light and nature, as am I.

My second attempt was not as successful, in my opinion, as the first, and I think it’s because of the rather intense color scheme.  It could be relieved with some much lighter tones, and a little more cool areas of contrast to the warm.  This is called, appropriately, “Heated Landscape” and is for sale at Art Loft just outside the entrance to the Chautauqua Institution.   I don’t want to give the impression that I don’t like this painting – I do!  It was really fun to work on.  The paint has a mind of it’s own, and even so can be added and subtracted easily provided you don’t care about controlling everything that happens.  It’s almost like painting on Yupo, but not quite as slippery.

Heated Landscape.web

This painting which I call “Bidwell Market Zinnias” after our summer Saturday farmers’ market, also for sale at Artloft, is among my favorites ever.  I started out with a circular swirl of high intensity colors, red, yellow and blue, and moved the paint around, adding and subtracting to come up with a painting I really like.

Bidwell's Zinnias.web

Friends who know me well, and admire my paintings, have given me some good advice. They say, in one way or another, include some architecture, some neighborhood, in your paintings, even when you are experimenting.  So, these two are very recent, and include architectural elements from my home city, Buffalo. The first, “City Sunset” is the view I have as I look out of my studio across the street, almost due West, at sunset. It was accepted into the Adirondacks National Exhibition of American Watercolors which opens August 8th in Old Forge, NY. Very excited to have been juried into this terrific show.

City Sunset.web

This last painting, called “Canalside” is a view from across the newly constructed memory of the Erie Canal at our Lake Erie Shore, is also a favorite.  It will be included in the group show, “Art Exhibition – Seeing and Being: Making Art in WNY Neighborhoods” opening Monday, June 1 at 6 pm at Betty’s Restaurant, 370 Virginia St., Buffalo.

Canalside.web

I love to try new ways to work with watercolor and all of the other water media. I am not a young person, though I am a young artist, having really started to get serious about this in the mid 2000’s. Architecture took all my work time and energy for 44 years.  I don’t think I’ll be  able to paint for the same amount of time….as I’d be painting at age 107, but maybe I’ll still be at it!  I’m pretty young at heart!

An Amazing Amarylis

Every Christmas Holiday my wonderful friend Judy Shanley gives me an amaryllis bulb to watch grow.  This years lay dormant for some time, and finally started to show green in February.  It didn’t bloom until just before Easter, and then it was amazing!  Not red, but crimson-tinged white with green centers, eight flowers on its two stalks at first, and then, when they were done and I was about to put it in the cool back hall, four more! Definitely worth photographing and drawing, it sat in my kitchen window next to the sink so that I could enjoy it all the time.

Here’s the photo, taken at night, with the window blinds on the left and the kitchen cabinet doors on the right.  I liked the contrast the dark window and door made.

amarylis photo.webBefore I tried any painting, I sketched the beauty in my moleskin sketchbook with pigma micron pens. It obviously begamarylissketch2.webged for color.  In Sally Treanor’s Watercolor Salon on Mondays we were trying our hands at ink and watercolor on rice paper.  What better subject, I thought.  I had forgotten a lot about painting on rice paper, especially how you really have to be patient and let it dry in between layers.

amarylis drwg.web
I began the drawing with an 03 pigma micron pen, very light, knowing that I would want to darken it, accentuating the places where lines began and shapes met, at a later sitting.

Starting to paint, using hansa yellow, pthalo blue, permanent rose and quin gold.  Let it dry. This is when the lines begged me to be brought to life, so I added some defining with an 05 pigma micron, and added some more color, still not much of the darker colors, though my dark reds were a bit worrisome.  Must have included some brown madder at this point.

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When I started to add the background, the painting took on new life for me, but then in the next sitting I began to lose the light from the darker blossom.  Not good.amarylis4.webamaryllis5.web

I resorted to chinese white to rescue the light in the darker blossom, and felt pretty good about the results. Now to finish the blossom on the left, very sparingly though that is tough for me, and to to complete the background.

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And for the final touches on the lighter blossom, and the background, darkening here, lightening there, and I can call it finished! I am proud of myself for taking the time to do it right! Hope you like it. amarylis final.web